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Muriel Newman: Divided We Fall?

Muriel Newman: Divided We Fall?

New Zealanders are saying “enough is enough”. Separatism is not a future we aspire to. New Zealand is a modern democratic nation and to go forward we need to be working and walking shoulder to shoulder, with a united vision of prosperity and one law for all.

Over the last few years, the way New Zealanders view Waitangi Day has been changing. It used to be a day of celebration of nationhood. Now it is a day in which people focus on enjoying their holiday while trying to ignore the protest actions of radical Maori demanding more from the Government.

A growing majority of New Zealanders feel the Treaty settlement process has gone too far. It has become a grievance industry that is dividing the country. Meanwhile struggling taxpayers question why they should be compensating Maori descendants for land disputes that are 150 years old.

Modern claims that have sprung from the liberal interpretations of the Treaty as a living document of partnership between Maori and the Crown – for our lakes and rivers, the airwaves and electromagnetic spectrum, and now the foreshore and seabed – are seen as stark examples of greedy opportunism at the heart of our racial divide.

Leaders and academics that hark back to the pre-European days of Maori domination of New Zealand have driven this opportunism. They appear to conveniently forget that Maori violently conquered the Moriori, the original settlers, and their claims of tangata whenua status and demands for compensation for historical grievances appear to many to be ill informed.

That is not to say that most New Zealanders do not feel pride in our Maori heritage – we do. The recent renaissance in Maori culture has spawned a widespread fascination in things Maori and many progressive Maori are enjoying this renaissance. Too many others however, have been captured by the grievance industry and are focussed on looking backwards to see what they can get rather than moving forward and building their own success.

The current Government has been responsible for exacerbating the growing racial divide. Desperate to reward Maori for their election support and to reinforce their vote, Labour, shortly after its election in 1999, launched its “Closing the Gaps” strategy. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars was poured into projects like “building capacity in the community”, increased subsidies for Maori health or special local government consultation with Maori, under the guise of reducing economic disparity. All of this has occurred in spite of government research showing clearly that economic disparity is not based on race, and Maori income distribution is not much different from that of Pakeha.

The exception of course, is Maori on welfare. But welfare dependency is responsible for locking every other ethnic group into a long-term poverty trap as well. That is why a comprehensive programme of welfare reform is so urgent – it is the only way to lift New Zealanders locked into benefit-dependency, into the mainstream economy.

Last year, Labour commissioned a book designed to illustrate the contribution that Maori have made to the economy. It claimed Maori paid $2.4 billion in taxes and received $2.3 billion in welfare, creating an overall net contribution of $100 million. On further analysis it was clear that social spending on Maori health, education, housing and so on had not been taken into account. When they were added in, the tables were turned with Maori receiving $7.3 billion in taxpayer funding, at a net cost to the economy, of around $5 billion.

When ACT released it’s The Maori Tax to Benefit Gap report in January this year (see http://www.act.org.nz/tax-benefitgap) to set the record straight, there was a huge uproar not only from the politically correct brigade, but also from the government who viciously attacked ACT with accusations of racism. Yet in a move that smacks of extreme racism, Labour has increased its relentless appeasement to Maori by drafting legislative proposals to transfer the control of New Zealand’s future commercial marine development to Maori.

The Government’s Foreshore and Seabed Framework – the most significant piece of legislation in our recent history – was released just before Christmas after hurried consultation with Maori (non-Maori were banned from attending) and no one else. The ensuing uproar by Maori over not being granted title to the beach and the sea has wooed non-Maori into thinking the deal is probably fair to all. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Hidden within this complex proposal is the biggest asset transfer since Governor Hobson annexed New Zealand prior to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Labour intends to transfer billions of dollars of Crown-owned assets from the control of the New Zealand public to that of a racial minority.

Regional councils throughout the country are continuing with public consultation over the proposed aquaculture management areas (AMAs) oblivious to the fact it is not the public’s view of marine fishing that will determine the future shape of AMAs, but local Maori. Under the proposed framework the power of the Resource Management Act is severely curtailed and the public will have almost no right of appeal, as the RMA will be limited to issues of “sustainability” only. Essentially, local Maori could propose marine farming ventures – in partnership with any other investor – in the middle of a popular tourist area and there will be virtually no way of stopping such a development.

Over the summer period I attended local ratepayer meetings and heard the concerns of Maori and non-Maori alike. I am appalled that this government is prepared to sell out the rights of the majority in order to appease the ambitions of a few, as it leads this nation towards a separatist future.

New Zealanders are saying “enough is enough”. Separatism is not a future we aspire to. New Zealand is a modern democratic nation and to go forward we need to be working and walking shoulder to shoulder, with a united vision of prosperity and one law for all.


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